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18th FINA World Championships - Gwangju (KOR)17th FINA World ChampionshipWCC

Family ties: Sisters Louise and Sophie Hansson make a splash for Sweden

 When competing at the highest level, athletes rely on their teammates as their support system and family away from home. For Lousie Hansson of Sweden and her little sister Sophie, blood relatives are never far away, even on the pool deck.

“We’ve always swam together. We’re both lucky, she’s a breaststroker and I do everything except for breaststroke… which is really nice because we actually don’t compete against each other,” said Louise. “Swimming in relays together is so much fun and it is really comforting just having her here.”

World Championships 2019
Gwangju, Korea

Day 7: Women's Water Polo: USA shoots down Spain for historic sixth crown

World Championships 2019
Gwangju, South Korea
Match 45, 14:00, GREECE 9 NETHERLANDS 11
Match 45, 14:00, GREECE 9 NETHERLANDS 11

Match 45, 14:00, GREECE 9 NETHERLANDS 11

Classification 7-8

Quarters: 2-1, 1-5,  6-4, 0-1

Referees: German Moller (ARG), Alessandro Severo (ITA).

Extra man: GRE: 4/7. NED: 5/13.

Penalties: Nil.

Shot conversion: GRE: 9/32. NED: 11/29


GREECE: Ioanna Stamatopoulou, Christina Tsoukala, Alkistis Benekou, Nikoleta Eleftheridou, Maria Patra, Alkisti Avramidou (1), Alexandra Asimaki (1), Ioanna Chydirioti (1), Christina Kotsia (3), Eirini Ninou, Eleftheria Plevritou (1), Eleni Xenaki (2), Marina Kotsioni. Head Coach: Georgios Morfesis.

NETHERLANDS: Joanne Koenders, Maud Megens (3), Dagmar Genee (2), Catharina Van der Sloot (2), Iris Wolves, Nomi Stomphorst, Bente Rogge, Vivian Sevenich, Maartje Keuning (3), Ilse Koolhaas, Simone Van der Kraats (1), Brigitte Sleeking, Rozanne Voorvelt, Sarah Buis. Head Coach: Arno Havenga.


Netherlands’ ability to shut out Greece in the final quarter was what won the match for the European champion. Greece started with a 2-1 period, only to see that advantage quickly turned around as the Dutch led 6-3 at the half and 7-4 two minutes into the third quarter. It looked like a waltz at this stage and then the spins came as Greece scored four of the next five goals for 8-8 at 1:23. Maartje Keuning, who has been growing as a player here, fired in two goals in consecutive attacks for 10-8 and seventh for the championships. Christina Kotsia responded with her third from outside, barring down with just two seconds left on the clock. There was no movement in the score until the final minute when Dagmar Genee finished a super extra-man movement from smack in front for 11-9 at 0:36. Netherlands won the title in 1991 and has been runner-up four times. It was ninth in Budapest and the beaten finalist in Kazan 2015. Maud Megens was the leading scorer in Gwangju with 20 strikes. Greece has had just the one podium finish — gold at Shanghai 2011. Best with the scoring were Alkisti Avramidou and centre forward Eleni Xenaki with 12 goals apiece.


Arno Havenga (NED) — Head Coach

“I’m happy to finish with victory. The performance of both teams showed they were disappointed with playing for seventh and eighth. We didn’t performance (at the tournament), but we had the best preparation. We will learn from this moment. We can only benefit from it.”

Maria Patra (GRE) — First time at FINA World Championships

“This is my first time in the World Championships. It was really hard as we all had expected. We expected more from our team, but it wasn’t a good moment for us. I just hope next year we will be better and better.”

Match 46, 15:30, RUSSIA 10 ITALY 9
Results & Teams

Match 46, 15:30, RUSSIA 10 ITALY 9

Classification 5-6

Quarters: 3-3, 1-2, 5-2, 1-2

Referees: Gabriella Varkonyi (HUN), Sebastien Dervieux (FRA).

Extra man: RUS: 1/4. ITA: 3/5.

Penalties: RUS: 1/1. ITA: 1/2.

Shot conversion: RUS:


RUSSIA: Evgeniia Golovina, Maria Bersneva (1), Ekaterina Prokofyeva (2), Elvina Karimova, Tatiana Tolkunova, Olga Gorbunova (1), Alena Serzhantova (1), Anastasiia Simanovich (2), Anna Timofeeva (2), Evgeniia Soboleva (1), Evgeniia Ivanova, Daria Ryzhkova, Anna Karnaukh. Head Coach: Alexander Gaidukov.

ITALY: Giulia Gorlero, Chiara Tabani (1), Arianna Garibotti (1), Silvia Avegno, Elisa Queirolo, Rosaria Aiello, Domitilla Picozzi, Roberta Bianconi (3), Giulia Emmolo (1), Valeria Palmieri, Isabella Chiappini (3), Giulia Viacava, Frederica Lavi. Head Coach: Fabio Conti.


This was a strange match, as one coach said. Russia went 3-2 ahead before Italy came back with three for 5-3 inside the final minute. Centre forward Anna Timofeeva scored seven seconds from halftime for 5-4 behind. It was to be the first six straight goals for Russia, taking it to a convincing 9-5 lead. Then Chiappini scored her third to double her haul in Gwangju and Giulia Emmolo converted counter-attack to close the period at 9-7. Roberta Bianconi made it 9-8 at the start of the fourth from the penalty line after missing an attempt a minute earlier. Bianconi levelled at 3:07 from the top and the match finished as a contest at 0:31 when the impressive Alena Serzhantova scored from outside. Russia has never made the final, but taken home five bronze medals, the latest in Budapest two years ago. Leading the scoring for Russia in Gwangju was Ekaterina Prokofyeva with 11 goals. Italy has two gold, one silver and two bronzes at this level, winning in Fukuoka 2001. In Budapest it finished sixth. Best with the ball was Roberta Bianconi with 12.


Andrei Belofastov (RUS) — Assistant Coach

“Happy today we win against a very strong team. We played good or not so good at times. We played well in extra-man (attack). (Anna) Timofeeva and  (Evgenyi) Soboleva were excellent as was our goalkeeper (Anna Kanaukh). She has been very good all tournament. All players have been good. This was more a practice match today. It was a good tournament and a new experience for some. The game against Australia (quarterfinal loss) was a very negative game.”

Alena Serzhantova (RUS) — Goal scorer

On scoring the winning goal: “If another team-mate was there, she would’ve scored the goal. I think the result came from all team-mates’ efforts.”

Fabio Conti (ITA) — Head Coach

“It was played in a good way. We made mistakes with Hungary (losing 7-6 in quarterfinal), not big mistakes, but something strange in our approach in the little moments. We were sometimes good or bad. We now have the European Champs in January. Today it was very strange, not easy to arrange good ideas for the players. It was good to be in the game until the end.”

Izabella Chiappini (ITA) — Three goals 

“The tournament didn’t turn out as we had expected. We expected to at least go to the final and qualify for the Olympics, but we lost in the quarterfinals against Hungary. After you lose a game like this, it’s really hard to have motivation for other games, but we actually managed to play well the game against the Netherlands, but today Russia played better than us. Now we have to focus and prepare for the European Championships in January to enter the Olympics.”


Match 47, 17:00, AUSTRALIA 10 HUNGARY 9
Results & Teams

Match 47, 17:00, AUSTRALIA 10 HUNGARY 9

Classification 3-4

Quarters: 3-3, 4-3, 1-1, 2-2

Referees:  Marie-Claude Deslieres (CAN), Jaume Teixido (ESP).

Extra man: AUS: 3/7. HUN: 5/13.

Penalties: AUS: 1/1. HUN: 1/1.

Shot conversion: AUS: 10/28. HUN: 9/25.


AUSTRALIA: Gabriella Palm, Keesja Gofers, Hannah Buckling (2), Bronte Halligan (1), Isobel Bishop, Bronwen Knox (2), Rowie Webster (1), Amy Ridge (1), Zoe Arancini (3), Lena Mihailovic, Elle Armit, Madeleine Steere, Lea Yanitsis. Head Coach: Predrag Mihailovic.

HUNGARY: Edina Gangl, Dorottya Szilagyi (1), Rebecca Parkes (1), Greta Gurisatti (2), Natasa Rybanska, Brigitta Horvath, Anna Illes, Rita Keszthelyi (3), Dora Leimeter (1), Aniko Gyongyossy, Dora Toth-Csabai (1), Vanda Valyi, Alda Magyari. Head Coach: Attila Biro.


Australia may have come up with the bronze medal, but Hungary showed enough that it could have easily won, as well. It was a match of attrition as the teams were well matched. Australia shot out to a three-goal lead and then gave up the advantage as Hungary made a telling move with three of its own. Hungary went into the lead three times with Australia replying and by 6-6 the Stingers went one better to lead at 7-6 by halftime. The third period was all about defence with a single goal each, Hungary having the edge through the tournament’s highest scorer, Rita Keszthelyi, shooting her second, before an Amy Ridge go-ahead goal closed the scoring. The Aussie charge continued in the fourth with Bronte Halligan and captain Rowie Webster lifting Australia three clear. Dorottya Szilagyi from the top left and Keszthelyi from the penalty line (at 2:52) broke the match wide open. Then came a series of errors by both sides with neither managing a score, leaving Australia to step on to the podium. Australia won the inaugural title in 1986 and has since added two silvers and now two bronze medals to the cabinet. It was beaten by Greece into eighth place in Budapest. Webster was the best shooter with 13 goals. Hungary has two titles — 1994 and 2005 — a silver and a bronze. Captain Rita Keszthelyi was the leading scorer with a championship best 24 scores.


Bec Rippon (AUS) — Assistant Coach

“We knew Hungary was a high-scoring team and at three up we knew we were not out of the woods. Our defence was critical and in the critical situations we put away the goals. We showed a lot of courage and fight and we had the water polo elements. We showed in critical moments we could put it together.”

Rowie Webster (AUS) — Captain and goal scorer 

“I’m obviously really happy to get a bronze medal at the World Championships. Hungary is a phenomenal team. They took us every step of the way and they came down to the very last attack in the very last defence. We’re just happy that we’re on the right side of the wing, so we’re really, really happy. I think both teams made mistakes and I think it’s a matter of just quickly getting over them and being able to capitalise on your opportunities, and that’s exactly what we did, so I think we capitalised on more opportunities than they did.”

Bronwen Knox (AUS) — Two goals

“It wasn’t nerves (in the final quarter). Everyone was putting in her best but the decision making was off. We were thinking one step ahead instead of being in the now. Just got the job done. We let them score some (easy) goals through laziness by not getting our hands up.”

Atilla Biro (HUN) — Head Coach

“The Australian team wasn’t any better than us, one goal, two goal. We knew we could win. We had possibilities at the end and we missed it — that’s life. We didn’t deserve to lose. It was good getting back into the game when three down and we had to make different tactics. At the end we missed two-on-one opportunities.”

Results & Teams


Classification 1-2

Quarters:  3-1, 2-2, 4-0,

Referees: Michiel Swart (NED), Nenad Peris (CRO).

Extra man: USA:

Penalties: ESP: 1/1.

Shot conversion: USA:


UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Amanda Longan, Maddeline Musselman, Melissa Seidemann (1), Rachel Fattal (1), Paige Hauschild (1), Margaret Steffens (2), Stephania Haralabidis (1), Kiley Neushul (3), Aria Fischer (1), Kaleigh Gilchrist, Makenzie Fischer (1), Alys Williams, Ashleigh Johnson. Head Coach: Adam Krikorian.

SPAIN: Laura Ester, Marta Bach, Anna Espar, Beatriz Ortiz (2), Roser Tarrago (3), Irene Gonzalez, Clara Espar, Pilar Pena, Judith Forca (1), Paula Crespi, Maica Garcia, Paula Leiton, Elena Sanchez. Head Coach: Miguel Oca.


USA has a bucket-load of medals, and tonight it won the title for the sixth time and third in succession. USA took time to settle into the match and was pressured for the whole first half by the Spaniards who are desperate to end USA’s dominance and take the crown back home. It will have to wait until Saturday night to see if the Spanish men can lift the title against Italy. Impressive how both Spanish teams made it all the way to the gold-medal stage. USA was not to be denied. It had the arsenal, the strength, the speed and guile to keep the world guessing and strategising just whole to crack the acorn that contains knowledge and everything water polo that fires USA. It was a rerun of Budapest 2017 and USA won that 13-6. Spain levelled at one and three, with two goals coming from the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, Rosa Tarrago. Her drive for her first was brilliant and the second no worse. With the rain coming down strongly following a lightning storm before the match, USA went on the rampage with six goals to close the third period at 9-3. Aria Fischer, voted the best centre forward of the championship, scored in the rush. Tarrago speared a penalty goal to start the final period to lift her tally to 16. It began a tit-for-tat period in which USA captain Maggie Steffens smashed one home; Judith Forca gained her first and 14th goal before Kiley Neushul netted a second for 11-5. There was fire still in the Spanish belly. Ortiz nabbed a second with a lob of Amanda Longan at 1:16 for 11-6 — narrowing the margin by two from Budapest. USA was a very consistent team and every play could be named to the all-star team, such is the success, the dedication and the brilliance, spearheaded by super coach Adam Krikorian, who must have enjoyed the swim after the constant rain for all four quarters. Credit too, to Spanish goalkeeper Laura Ester, who’s excellent marshalling of her defence and stoic play, made her the tournament’s best goalkeeper. USA also has one silver — the only final it has lost, against Hungary in 2005 — and two bronzes. Maddie Musselman was the top scorer with 13 goals even though she did not score in the final. Spain won the crown at home in 2013 and took silver in Budapest. Tarragoa was the top scorer with 16, but it was her general play, speed and tactical knowledge that gained her the top accolade. Judith Forca scored 14.


Adam Krikorian (USA) — Head Coach

“As coaches whether we had success or not each team can go back with a laundry list of things to work on. We will continue to strive to be as good as we could be.”

On winning regularly: “It’s difficult. We have a ton of respect for Spain, Australia. The nice thing about the women’s game is that nine or 10 teams can win a medal. European champion team Netherlands finished seventh and Spain matched up with them in the quarterfinal. We know we can be beaten at any time and everyone can get better and we can focus on that.“

Maggie Steffens (USA) — Captain

“We are very happy to have the gold and be at the top of the podium. Being world champions is an incredible honour.”

Melissa Seidemann (USA) — Triple champion

“It was fun and a great environment. Korea did a great job with the rain and the environment. There were great connections in the water and we could hear our coaches, which is really special.”

Aria Fischer (USA) — Goal scorer 

“I feel great! We wanted the World Championships, which is what we came here to do. It’s a great feeling with my team.” On the next plan: “Obviously enjoy this for right now, but obviously we always work to get better and grow as a team.”

Kylie Neushul (USA) —Three goals

On winning gold while her two sisters claimed the beach water polo crown in Gwangju a week earlier: “I was really pleased. Unfortunately dad could not be here, but the rest of the family was. It was really inspiring to see them win. It’s my third title from four (championships). They’re all unique. It’s nice to go into the new (Olympic) year with a win.”

Miki Oca (ESP) — Head Coach

“We knew today was a very difficult game against a great team and we did, let’s say, the first 10-12 minutes tied, but two minutes before the end of the second quarter they made a hole  then scored two or three goals and that was a little but down and we couldn’t follow them. Congrats to them; we will try to get better. That’s it.”

Roser Tarrago (ESP) — Three goals, Championship MVP

“I think we had a great tournament, and we did our best. One of the main goals we had here was to qualify for the Olympics, and we’ve achieved that, so we’re really, really happy. It’s not the best thing ever to lose the final, obviously, but we’re happy. Now we have a whole year to work for the Olympics. We’ve never had that much time before. We’re going to fight for it!"

Gwangju, South Korea.— United States of America gunned down Spain 11-6 for its third straight FINA World Championship women's water polo crown at the Nambu University Grounds in Gwangju tonight.

The unprecedented triple and a record sixth title since women entered the championships in 1986, when Australia was the winner, was expected and it delighted the fans.

USA previously won in 2009, 2007 and 2003. Spain, winner in Barcelona in 2013, lost the Budapest final 13-6 and many of the same players faced each other tonight.


Dressel rockets 46.96, Aussie relay breaks WR, Seto hunts down 200m IM title

On the day of speeding, USA’s Caeleb Dressel became the first man swimming the 100m free under 47sec wearing a textile suit. The Australian 4x200m free relay brought down another shiny World Record from 2009, while fellow Aussie Matthew Wilson equalled the 200m breast WR in the semis. Japan’s Daya Seto, specialist in the 400m IM, claimed the 200m title for the first time in his career, while Hungary’s Boglarka Kapas stunned the field and touched first to keep the 200m fly titles in Hungarian possession here.

World Championships 2019
Gwangju (KOR)